How a naked toddler in a cafe inspired a t-shirt range

The cafe owners defended their children against critics.
The cafe owners defended their children against critics. Photo: Facebook/Imagine Cafe

If you haven't heard of #buttholegate yet, brace yourself. It involves vegans, poo, yodelling and, well, a butthole.

The whole debacle started when a disgruntled customer of Imagine Vegan Café in Memphis left a scathing review online saying that a baby at the café "bent over to show me its butthole".

Chelsea Bartley wrote: "During my visit, a bare butt naked baby was running around, stood up on a table with its black ... dirty feet. An older kid came over and started like yodelling and staring at me during my meal. I was SO uncomfortable."

Café owners and parents of the children – and butthole – in question Adam and Kristie Jeffrey were unapologetic, and defended their children in now deleted Facebook posts. They said that their baby wasn't allowed to just wander naked through the café, but had ripped off her nappy and gone for a nudie run, and then was quickly apprehended by her father.

Of course the online interchange between Chelsea and Adam and Kristie attracted a lot of interest online, and the hashtag #buttholegate was born, trending on Twitter and attracting the attention of the local health inspector, who popped in to see just what was going on at this café.

They passed the health inspection with flying colours.

Adam and Kristie temporarily suspended their Facebook page but then returned with a humorous take on the whole situation.

"We had to temporarily deactivate the page to eliminate the unnecessary cruelty of some commenters directed to our children and family members," they wrote.

"Our children also remain our highest priority; clearly our 22-month-old isn't familiar with the 'no shirt, no diapers, no shoes, no service' policy and we're working on that.

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"She has always and will always be under close supervision and further 'rip and run' escapades are being closely monitored.

"However, we have an open door singing policy and encourage and foster our kid's love of music, so be aware you could be serenaded at any time! On a lighter note, we've gotten hundreds of very creative prank calls, and have had a lot of laughs! We will have #buttholegate shirts available soon."

The café's website states, "There may be children running around your table, singing very loudly" and "sometimes you will have a very quiet, candlelight experience. So please leave your expectations at the door."

When one social media commenter suggested the couple should apologise for the incident, Kristie said they would always defend their children, and put their welfare ahead of monetary gain. "She portrayed my youngest child as nasty, free to roam naked at will, and wholly unsupervised, despite the truth being that she ripped her diaper off, ran through the dining room, and was apprehended by her father very quickly.

"Then she complained about my five-year-old singing to her, referring to it as yodelling and expressing dislike that she looked at her, even though ironically 'our children may sing to you' is on the very front of our menu as well as prominently displayed on our website."

Kristie said Chelsea did not say anything about the incident at the time, and that the entire experience was exaggerated. The couple also said sales of #buttholegate t-shirts were not a grab for cash.

"It's all about using humour to overcome negativity and do some good; we will be donating the profits to a local charity," they said on Facebook.

"The exploitation of our daughter happened when thousands of trolls took an isolated incident, defended by a mum, and turned it into an international sensation, hashtag and all. Now it's our job to make this a positive story for her."

Not sure I'd know quite where to wear that shirt, but good luck to them.